Canadian Tulip Festival, cycling

Springtime beauty: an Ottawa itinerary

Spring is a glorious time in Canada’s capital, as the city’s urban landscape is blanketed with colourful blooms and the Canadian Tulip Festival offers fun programming. It’s also the perfect time to explore Ottawa’s many attractions by land, water and air, and taste some of the area’s best flavours along the way. Use the itinerary below to start planning your springtime getaway to Canada’s capital!

DAY 1 – Tulips, cruises and restaurants

Arrive in Ottawa and check into the hotel of your choice. The majority of our accommodation members are located downtown near most of the city’s main attractions.

Each year in spring, green spaces and sites throughout Canada’s capital region are beautified with over a million tulips. Visit Commissioners Park to see the largest display of tulips in the city—over 300,000 blooms in sweeping garden beds. During the Canadian Tulip Festival, the park is filled with programming including outdoor live music, tours, a heritage pavilion, a kids zone and special events. 

While at Commissioners Park, you’ll see the beautiful Rideau Canal from its banks. But to fully experience Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, hop onto one of Rideau Canal Cruises’ relaxing, eco-friendly electric boats! They follow the waterway as it winds through downtown Ottawa.

Soak up Ottawa’s sizzling culinary scene over dinner. Consider some of Ottawa’s great restaurants or delicious vegetarian and vegan options.

DAY 2 – Bikes, markets and museums

Start your day off right with locally-brewed caffeine. Ottawa’s independent coffee roasters serve that quality flavour you crave, plus pastries and breakfast treats.

Spend some of that energy exploring the city on two wheels. Cycling is a favourite Ottawa activity and one of the best ways for visitors to get around. Rent a bike or bring your own to explore the many pathways that line the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River, and lead to bucolic rural areas.

Once back at your downtown hotel, walk over to the historic ByWard Market neighbourhood to get your shopping, eating and drinking fix – all within four-square blocks!

Stroll over to the nearby National Gallery of Canada for some indoor and outdoor inspiration. Explore the art pieces scattered throughout the museum grounds and then head inside to see the largest collection of Canadian art in the world, including indigenous art and pieces by the Group of Seven. The National Gallery is just one of the seven national museums located in Ottawa. There are also 11 museums in the Ottawa Museum Network, including the Bytown Museum and Vanier Museopark.

DAY 3 – Biplanes, buses and beers

Fuel up for your last day of exploration by noshing at of Ottawa’s hot brunch spots.

One brilliant way to view Canada’s capital is from the sky – and better yet – from an authentic 1939 WACO UPF-7 aircraft which was used in the Second World War! Ottawa Aviation Adventures (formerly Ottawa Biplane Adventures) offers such flights departing from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Save time to visit the museum’s impressive aircraft collection.

To maximize your time and energy, you may want to join a hop-on hop-off bus tour with Gray Line or Lady Dive. Stay on the bus for the full guided tour or get off at the many museums, historic sites and other attractions covered on the route.

Celebrate a full day of exploration with some locally-brewed refreshments. Get a taste of Ottawa’s hopping craft beer scene by visiting some of the dozens of breweries located throughout the region.

For more fresh spring ways to spend a few days in Ottawa, consult our online event calendar to see what else is happening this season and beyond!

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